Although freedom of the press is guaranteed by Hong Kong’s Basic Law, recent developments in Hong Kong are deeply disturbing and critically undermine the media’s role as the fourth estate. Media violations including arrests, intimidation, verbal abuse as well as online and physical attacks are widespread. Also concerning are ongoing delays that foreign correspondents face in securing working visas for Hong Kong.
The law, which came into effect in June, has already been used to criminalise journalism and silence dissent. The imposition of the law signals a major regression for press freedom and independent media in Hong Kong. The arrest last week of Jimmy Lai, the chairman of Next Media Group and founder of the widely-known pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, indicate an orchestrated effort to silence dissent at prominent levels.
As representatives of media freedom defenders in Asia Pacific, we stand together in solidarity to support our fellow journalists and media workers in Hong Kong in these troubling times. Despite the Hong Kong government’s promise to preserve press freedom, the arrests of Jimmy Lai and other journalists and activists clearly demonstrate the real threat to fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong.
We call on the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities to respect journalists’ rights and stop attacks on the media and freedom of expression. This not only hampers democracy, but weakens Hong Kong’s standing in the eyes of the world. Journalism is not a crime. The authorities must protect freedom of expression and the rights of journalists in Hong Kong.
Afghan Independent Journalists Association
Alliance of Independent Journalists - Indonesia
Association of Taiwan Journalists - Taiwan
Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists
E tū - New Zealand
Federation of Media Employees' Trade Unions - Sri Lanka
Federation of Nepalese Journalists
Free Media Movement – Sri Lanka
Indian Journalists Union
Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers' Unions, Shimbunroren - Japan
Journalist Association of Bhutan
Journalists' Association of Korea
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance - Australia
National Union of Journalists - India
National Union of Journalists - Nepal
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
National Union of Journalists Peninsular Malaysia
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists
Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association
Timor-Leste Press Union